Stop Saying A Dog's Death Is Petty

Stop Saying A Dog's Death Is Petty

He was my best friend and then he was gone.

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The bond between humans and dogs has evolved immensely since the canines were first domesticated about 15,000 years ago. They were first made a companion animal for purposes such as aiding in hunting with their keen sense of smell or protecting their humans from danger. As time went on, more breeds of dogs began to accumulate as they were crossbred, but still only in a working sense. It was much different from how they are culturally viewed in modern times: a member of the family, a best friend, a confidant to no end. People would rather have dog children then actual babies, they spend tremendous amounts of money at the vet to guarantee their furry friend is happy and healthy. Can you blame them?

Canines are continuously dubbed as "man's best friend." That's exactly what my dog was to me. My family had gotten JD for Christmas of 2003, a tiny boxer puppy whom my father named Jack Daniels after his favorite alcohol. As far back as I could remember, I could recall having JD as my pup as I was only three years old when Santa brought him down from the North Pole. My siblings and I used to go outside in below freezing weather, humming snowballs at each other, while JD tried to catch one in his mouth because he thought we were playing fetch. He would lick my face when he saw tears streaming down my cheeks and even though he had fish breath, it was his way of comforting me. He made my stomach hurt from laughter when he would obnoxiously sneeze and my eyes water when he ate a whole package of ant poison and we had to take him to the vet. He just needed to throw it back up, there was never a fear in me that my best friend would die one day.

As JD got older, it got harder and harder for him to walk up the three steps that led from outside into my house. He was 12 years old and being a boxer, he was prone to hip and joint problems, unfortunately. My sister and I were giving him a bath outside when we noticed a weird substance oozing from his genitals. We got him into the vet that day and his penile issue was diagnosed as a fungal infection, but the vet had noticed something on my best friend's leg. It was a cancerous tumor growing extremely fast that added in his slowed mobility and wobbly feet. The vet concluded that if it grew any bigger, it would snap JD's leg in half and with him being so old, there was a slim chance that he would survive a surgical tumor removal. My mother scheduled an appointment to put my best friend to sleep right in front of me.

It felt like the ground was ripped out from beneath my feet. I knew he was old and I knew that his fur was turning white, but to me, it seemed like my dog could survive anything as long as we're together. He had already lived such a long life for a purebred boxer, who was I to demand more time? I found myself not able to look at him or speak about him as I would burst into tears. Until one day, the realization occurred to me. He was in pain. He was in pain and he was counting on me to make it stop. I spent every waking moment with him, giving him the best last day on the planet.

Jack Daniels was put soundly to sleep on August 17th of 2016.

He was 12 years old.

He would've been 13 in October.

He was my best friend.

He passed away in my arms.

He was loved.

I wasn't able to eat dinner that night or any food for the next few days. It was hard to go downstairs or outside and not have him waiting for me, his tail wagging and his butt shaking. Every time I turned a corner, a part of me longed for him to be sitting there, tilting his head at me. We received his ashes and a stamp of his paw print, he was actually gone. It was my junior year and my teacher decided to do icebreakers. One of the quests was to find someone who had a dog and my friend said, "Oh, you have a dog!" But I didn't. For the first time I could remember, I didn't have a dog.

It hurt for a long while and it still does, but like with any loss, you learn to live with the pain. There were many who gave me side glances, thinking he was just a dog and I was overreacting. It felt like I had lost a member of my family because that's what he was. Imagine losing your best pal and you made the decision to pull the plug, you were in there in the room. When we put JD down, that was the first and only time I have ever seen my dad or my brother cry. What I am trying to say is that losing a dog deserves as much attention and grief as a human death. Any pet death deserves the same amount. It's difficult and affects humans the same way. Please don't tell someone that it's not a big deal when they lost a piece of their heart.

Until we meet again over the rainbow bridge, bubba.

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To The Nursing Major During The Hardest Week Of The Year

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

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To the Nursing Major During Finals Week,

I know you're tired, I know you're stressed, and I know you feel like you can't go on. I know that no part of this seems fair, and I know you are by far the biggest critic of yourself. I know that you've thought about giving up. I know that you feel alone. I know that you wonder why in the world you chose one of the hardest college majors, especially on the days it leaves you feeling empty and broken.

But, I also know that you love nursing school. I know your eyes light up when you're with patients, and I know your heart races when you think of graduation. I know that you love the people that you're in school with, like truly, we're-all-in-this-together, family type of love. I know that you look at the older nurses with admiration, just hoping and praying that you will remain that calm and composed one day. I know that every time someone asks what your college major is that you beam with pride as you tell them it's nursing, and I know that your heart skips a beat knowing that you are making a difference.

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that a failed class doesn't mean you aren't meant to do this. I know that a 'C' on a test that you studied so. dang. hard. for does not mean that you are not intelligent. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

I know that nursing school isn't fair. I know you wish it was easier. I know that some days you can't remember why it's worth it. I know you want to go out and have fun. I know that staying up until 1:00 A.M. doing paperwork, only to have to be up and at clinicals before the sun rises is not fair. I know that studying this much only to be failing the class is hard. I know you wish your friends and family understood. I know that this is difficult.

Nursing school isn't glamorous, with the white lab coat and stethoscope. Nursing school is crying, randomly and a lot. Nursing school is exhaustion. Nursing school is drinking so much coffee that you lose track. Nursing school is being so stressed that you can't eat. Nursing school is four cumulative finals jam-packed into one week that is enough to make you go insane.

But, nursing school is worth it. I know that when these assignments are turned in and finals are over, that you will find the motivation to keep going. I know that one good day of making a difference in a patient's life is worth a hundred bad days of nursing school.

Keep hanging in there, nursing majors. It'll all be worth it— this I know, for sure.

So, if you have a nursing major in your life, hug them and tell them that you're proud of them. Nursing school is tough, nursing school is scary, and nursing school is overwhelming; but a simple 'thank-you' from someone we love is all we need to keep going.

Sincerely,

A third-year nursing student who knows

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To Whoever Adopts The Dog I Had To Give Up

To whom it may concern...

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I begged and begged to get that beautiful dog. The moment I laid my eyes on her I gasped from how cute and beautiful she was. She was so sweet to my parents and I that we took her home with us that same day. I truly fell in love with her instantly. She slept right in my bed with me that first night and I could tell I was getting attached very quickly. That is what makes this hurt the most.

Stevie, or whatever your name may be in the future, just know that I loved every single second spent with you. I know our time together was so short, but that small amount of time made a wonderful impact on me. Those big beautiful brown eyes warmed by heart so much. Even though you woke me up early to go to the bathroom, I didn't care. That just meant more time we could spend together. I am sorry that I was not able to provide you the life you deserved. It's not your fault that you're the way you are in certain situations. You are a perfect dog and I want you to know that and I want you to know that you will always have a special place in my heart.

The lucky person who gets to have that beautiful girl in their life, whoever you are I am so happy you're doing what you're doing. We had done everything we could manage, but our community was just not right for her. I hope wherever you are you have amazing neighbors like we did that are supportive of everything that happens. If you don't, that's okay because that means Stevie ended up at an even better place. Somewhere she can run around at without a leash and doesn't have other dogs interfering with her territory. I was devastated to let her go. I didn't want to, but it was becoming the only option. I cried a lot, but Stevie doesn't deserve to be in stressful situations like she was when I had her.

I just want to thank you for taking her in. Thank you for caring for her and hopefully giving her the amazing life that she deserves. She is a spunky little girl, but she is as sweet as can be. Tell her that I love her and miss her.

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